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All About Arborists

Arborists help maintain your valuable investment.

What is a Certified Arborist?
Selecting the right Arborist for the job

Services that Arborists can provide:

Pruning
Removal
Emergency Tree Care
Planting
Other Services

Pruning:

Your arborist can determine what type of pruning is necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance and safety of your trees. These techniques include:

  • Eliminating branches that rub each other
  • Removing limbs that interfere with wires, building facades, gutters, roofs, chimneys, or windows, or that obstruct streets or sidewalks.
  • Removing dead or weak limbs that pose a hazard or may lead to decay
  • Removing diseased or insect-infected limbs
  • Creating better structure to lesson wind resistance and reduce the potential for storm damage
  • Training young trees
  • Removing limbs damaged by adverse weather conditions
  • Thinning or removal of unnecessary branches
  • Improve the shape or silhouette of the tree

Removal:

Although tree removal is a last resort, there are circumstances when it is necessary. An arborist can help decide whether or not a tree should be removed. Arborists have the skills and equipment to safely and efficiently remove trees. Removal is recommended when:

  • The tree is dead or dying
  • The tree is considered irreparably hazardous
  • The tree is causing an obstruction that is impossible to correct through pruning
  • The tree is crowding and causing harm to other trees
  • The tree is to be replaced by a more suitable specimen
  • The tree should be removed to allow new construction

Emergency Tree Care:

Storms may cause limbs or entire trees to fail, often landing on homes, cars, other structures or other trees. The weight of storm-damaged trees is great and they can be very dangerous to remove or trim. An arborist can assist in performing the job in a safe manner, while reducing further risk of damage to your property.

Planting:

Some arborists plant trees and most can recommend what type of trees are appropriate for a specific location. The wrong tree in the wrong location could lead to future problems due to limited growing space, insects, diseases, or poor growth.

Other Services:

Many arborists also provide a variety of other tree services including:

  • Practicing Plant Health Care, a concept of preventative maintenance to keep trees in good health, which will help the trees better defend itself against insects, disease, and site problems.
  • Fertilization
  • Cabling or bracing for added support to branches with weak attachment
  • Aeration to improve root growth
  • Installing of lightning protection systems
  • Spraying or injecting to control certain insect or disease problems

What is a Certified Arborist?

An arborist by definition is an individual who is trained in the art and science of planting, caring for and maintaining individual trees. ISA Arborist Certification is a non-governmental, voluntary process by which individuals can document their base of knowledge. It operates without mandate of law and is an internal, self-regulating device administered by the International Society of Arboriculture. Certification provides a measurable assessment of an individual’s knowledge and competence required to provide proper tree care.

Certification is not a measure of standards of practice. Certification can attest to the tree knowledge of an individual, but cannot guarantee or ensure quality performance.

Certified arborists are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through at least three years experience and who have passed a comprehensive examination developed by some of the nation’s leading experts on tree care.

Certified arborists must also continue their education to maintain their certification. Therefore, they should be up-to-date on the latest techniques in arboriculture.

Selecting the Right Arborist for the Job

  • Membership in professional organizations such as the International Society of Agriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) formerly called the National Arborist Association, or the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA) demonstrates a willingness on the part of the arborist to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques and information.
  • Certified arborists are experienced professionals who have passed an extensive examination covering all aspects of tree care.
  • Ask for proof of insurance and then phone the insurance company if you are not satisfied. A reputable arborist will have General Liability as well as Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Many homeowners have had to pay out large amounts of money for damages caused by an uninsured individual claiming to be a tree expert. You can be held responsible for damages and injuries that occur as a result of the job.
  • Ask for references to find out where the company has done work similar to the work you are requesting. Don’t hesitate to check references or visit other worksites where the company has done tree work. Remember, tree care is a substantial, long-lasting investment; you would not buy a car without a test drive!
  • Be wary of individuals who go door-to-door and offer bargains for performing tree work. Most reputable companies are too occupied to solicit work in this manner. Improper tree care can take many years to correct itself and in some cases never correct itself. Are you willing to take that risk with your valuable investment?
  • Good arborists will only perform accepted practices. For example, practices such as topping a tree, removing an excessive amount of live wood, and removing or disfiguring living trees without just cause, are unnecessary.
  • Don’t always accept the low bid. You should examine the credentials and the combination of price, work to be done, skill and professionalism to protect your substantial investment.
  • Get it in writing. Most reputable arborists will have their clients sign a contract.
  • Be sure to read the contract carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as:
  • When will the work be started and completed?
  • Who will be responsible for clean-up?
  • Is this the total price?
  • If I would like more be done, what is the hourly rate?

* Developed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), a non-profit organization supporting tree care research around the world and dedicated to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees. For further information, contact: ISA, PO Box 3129, Champaign, IL 61826-3129, USA.

©1995 International Society of Arboriculture